October 4th is the day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. People the world over admire St. Francis for his simplicity and humility, along with his dedication to peace and the natural world. Yes, the world would be a better place with more focus on of all of those virtues: simplicity, humility, peace, and ecology. (The picture to the left is of the town of Assisi in Italy.)
A Franciscan once told me a story about Francis that I had not heard. A young monk asked Francis if he could have a prayer book. Francis thought for a moment and said, “The idea of prayer is important, and having a resource to help you pray sounds helpful. Having a book, though, means that you need a place to put the book or a way to carry the book. Where then, will you put that shelf or bag that holds your book? Will you be afraid of losing the book, or of the book getting stolen? Where do you want to focus your attention?” I am sure you can guess the response of the young monk.
If you are interested in learning more about St. Francis of Assisi you could start with the Prayer of St. Francis, or watch Franco Zeffireelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon. While the movie looks a bit dated, it is a classic. There are also many books about St. Francis, such as St. Francis and the Foolishness of God.